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Young people viewing Hindi films: ideology, pleasure and meaning

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Despite or perhaps because of the continued popularity of Hindi films, it has often been assumed that audience responses can be read from box office takings or film texts. Assertions are also made about how young male audiences of Hindi commercial films go to the cinema because they like action, nudity and sex, while young female audiences deplore it and go to view moral narratives, romance and melodrama. When it comes to young people viewing ‘Bollywood’ films, few have made more than superficial attempts to engage seriously with the sociocultural contexts of such Hindi film consumption or to explore the range of pleasures and meanings Hindi films hold for viewers across the globe. Based on a three-year study of Hindi films and their audiences in India and the UK, the research outlined in this article pulls together a wide range of ideas and theories on Hindi film and audiences put forward in the last few decades and connects these to the sociopolitical contexts in which the films are watched and to the individual interpretations of young viewers in India and the UK. At a practical level, it explores the connections between film consumption in India and the UK diaspora, representations of sexuality and desire in Hindi films, with a special focus on constructions of gender and ethnicity, and their significance for young viewers.

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